Cannabis Grow Guide: How to Grow Plants Fast

11 min read
Cannabis Grow Guide: How to Grow Plants Fast

Like the rise of plant moms, cultivating herb at home has also gained popularity in recent years as a fun hobby for 420 enthusiasts. While gardeners can purchase fruit trees and flowering plants that are already in bloom or will start producing in just a few weeks, herb takes some time, patience, and dedication to go from seed to harvest with various factors that can affect that timeline. And let’s not forget about the waiting game that happens after the freshly trimmed herb is hung to dry and cure. The typical growing process can take anywhere from three to eight months (10 to 32 weeks) for a seed to germinate, grow, mature, flower, and be ready for harvest. This is a long time for someone eagerly waiting to partake in their homegrown stash and many 420 cultivators end up researching and asking other growers about the fastest way to grow herb. We’ve compiled a few tips and tricks of the trade used to grow plants fast and still have the plants produce a decent yield that’s potent and flavorful.

Why would anyone want to grow herb faster?

There’s a number of reasons why a home grower would want to grow faster. I mean, think about when you grew a sunflower or tomatoes as a kid and how you would check on it every single day with anticipation and annoyance when there were no flowers until one day there was and the feeling was amazing. Just like that little kid, the suspense of waiting to see the resinous buds and the feeling of smoking something grown with your own two hands is a very special moment, but growing does take time. Aside from simply wanting to smoke their home grown bud sooner, 420 cultivators may also want to grow plants fast to cut costs. Additional weeks of growing means more electricity, nutrients, and water usage, which definitely adds up. Another reason could be if they started growing late in the season and need to catch up or if the cultivator is trying to squeeze two or even three harvests into the season. Maybe you’re going on vacation and need to harvest before that time or you have an outdoor grow and the weather report isn’t looking great. Whatever the reason (there’s an endless number), there are a few techniques you can try that will help shave off some time from the vegetative or flowering stage of the plants’ life cycle. Even if you’re not ready to try these methods now, it’s always good to know how to grow faster just in case the situation comes up.

How to grow herb faster

There are several tricks to help grow plants fast and still retain the quality of the end product. Some of the following tips are tried and true methods that are used by 420 growers all over the world, while others are a little more niche and not as popular. If you intend to always grow your plants as quickly as possible, you may want to experiment with a few different techniques over the course of a season or two to see what works best for your specific strains and setup before committing to one method over another. The following tips and tricks are split up based on if you have an indoor grow setup or are growing outdoors. Since light is one of the most important aspects of the entire grow, indoor plants are much easier to manipulate into growing faster than outdoor setups that rely on natural sunlight, however it can still be done! Also keep in mind that several of the tips and tricks to grow plants fast can be used for both indoor and outdoor grow setups such as starting with a clone instead of seeds. Let’s jump right into it.

8 tips and tricks to grow plants fast indoors

8 tips and tricks to grow weed fast indoors

  1. Use an autoflower strain - Autoflowers have quicker life spans and mature faster than regular photoperiod strains since they contain some ruderalis genetics. Ruderalis plants are native to cold climates with short summers, so evolved to be quick to flower and seed. Instead of moving through the four stages of growth based on changes in light, autoflower strains automatically flower based on time. Growers can expect autoflowers to go from seed to harvest in roughly 7 to 11 weeks with some strains flowering after just two weeks from germination. If going with an autoflower cannabis seed, be sure to find out the average weeks to harvest either on the seed bank website or by asking directly since they’re all different.
  2. Start growing from a clone - The fastest way to grow plants without affecting yield or potency is to start with a clone, which is a cutting of another herb plant. Clones are available for purchase at grow shops or can be done at home with a photoperiod plant you already have (don’t ever clone autoflowers). With clones, the germination and seedling phase is completely skipped over and the plant goes directly into the vegetative stage of the life cycle, shortening the entire process. Cultivators often keep taking cuttings from the plants they’re growing for an endless supply of quick growing seedlings.
  3. Force a photoperiod strain to flower earlier - If you started with a photoperiod strain but wished that you had gone with a quick growing autoflower, there’s hope! It’s possible to manipulate the light to get the photoperiod plant to begin flowering earlier. To do this, set the lights to 12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of light every day starting from germination. The vegetative phase will be drastically shortened for a quicker life cycle, but be warned, your plants will be dwarfed and have a lower yield.
  4. Increase the light during the vegetative stage - This method is highly debated within the grow community, but give it a try so you can join in on the discussion. Increase the light to a full 24 hours of light every single day during the vegetative phase to decrease the grow time by over 30%. Plants that get light 24/7 grow a lot faster and become bushier and shorter instead of tall and lanky. Unlike the method in tip number 3, this will not dwarf the plant and you’ll still get a decent yield. Just be sure to watch for any issues during this drastic growth phase. If a plant looks like it has a deficiency, slightly reduce the hours of light or turn down the wattage until it fully recovers.
  5. Reduce the light to kick start flowering - Trick your plants into thinking that winter is coming quick and they need to flower by putting them in 48 hours straight of darkness. After these two days in the dark, use the normal 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark light cycle. Once the plants bloom, switch to a 11/13 light setting until harvest. This technique works best on strains that already have a short flowering stage. When done on a plant with a naturally long flowering stage, the yield will be dramatically reduced.
  6. Use a soilless setup - There are tons of reasons why 420 home growers are switching from a normal grow setup to hydroponics. A soilless grow will automatically shorten the vegetative stage by a few weeks. This is because the nutrients are being directly absorbed through the roots instead of trying to soak it up through the moist soil. The flowering time will remain the same, but hydroponic setups are known to produce larger yields with denser buds.
  7. Fine tune the nutrients - One of the most common reasons new cultivators fail is due to improper nutrients. This can be over feeding, under feeding, or using the wrong mix, either way, there will be visible issues with the plants. If plants get sick from improper nutrients, it will lengthen the entire life cycle since the plants will need time to recover and can affect the final product. Some plants are nutrient sensitive, so always start out slow by giving the plants a little less than what’s written on the package to ensure they can handle it before giving them the full dose. Remember that nutrient needs change throughout the life cycle as well. Give the plants more nitrogen (N) during the vegetative stage and switch to heavier phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) during flowering. 
  8. Use the perpetual harvest technique - If your reason for trying to grow plants fast is that you always want to have a full stash on hand, try the perpetual harvest method. To do this, you’ll need to separate grow setups in different areas. The two setups will have plants in different stages of the life cycle, so you’ll always have plants that are flowering. Keep one space dedicated to plants until they finish the vegetative phase. When they’re ready to flower, move the plants into the other grow setup, where they can benefit from different light settings. Immediately germinate a new crop and start them out in the veg setup, by then, the flowering plants will be ready to harvest and the process starts all over again for an endless supply.

6 tips and tricks to grow plants fast outdoors

  1. Choose an indica strain - You want the strain to work with you, not resist. Since sativas are native to tropical areas with long, hot summers, they typically have longer flowering periods and life cycles. Indicas grow faster in general, are known to produce larger yields, and have shorter lifespans, making them a top pick for home growers. This also makes them great for fast outdoor growing.
  2. Don’t forget to top and trim - Trimming and pruning plants are common knowledge, but topping may not be. It’s the technique of cutting off the top portion of the plant at the main stem so that it grows bushier, sturdier, and healthier. Topping and trimming should be done both indoors and outdoors for all grows, not just when trying to grow plants fast, but is extra important for stocky indica plants and all outdoor grows. Removing dead leaves or those that aren’t getting sunlight will ensure that the plant focuses all of its energy in the right places for a high yield and quality buds. 
  3. Reduce light to force flowering with a cover - Similar to the tip above for indoor grows, reducing the light will trigger the plants to flower earlier. Since it’s not as easy as simply switching up the timer on the lights, you’ll need to cover up the plants with an opaque tarp or cover that won’t let any light through. Do this by calculating the number of dark hours the plants are naturally getting and cover them up with the tarp earlier in the evening to reach 12 hours of darkness. In addition to a faster crop, the plants will also produce dense, resin-heavy buds due to the intense summer sunshine it receives while thinking it’s fall.
  4. Pollinate late by hand for an early harvest - You’ve probably heard that you never want your plants to accidentally get pollinated or they’ll produce seeds. Well, if done correctly, this technique will ensure the plant matures faster, but won’t grow full seeds. To pull this off, hand-pollinate the buds one week before you want to harvest the crop. This ensures the plant begins focusing on producing seeds and the flowers will mature faster. The seeds will be immature, small, and will not form a hard shell by the time you harvest the plants the next week.
  5. Choose a fast-growing strain - This goes for indoor and outdoor grows, but is much more crucial for outdoor setups since it is difficult to manipulate the environment. Many seed banks know that cultivators often want to grow quickly and have bred certain strains to do just that. A faster-growing strain will be much easier to force into growing and maturing even faster than its photoperiod counterpart. Many of these fast-growing strains are ready for harvest in only 7 to 10 weeks without any outside intervention, so just imagine if you use one of the tricks and tips from this article!
  6. Use the progressive harvest method - If you want to grow fast but also want to keep things easy, the progressive harvest technique is for you. This method involves harvesting just the mature buds and leaving the others to ripen on their own time. The progressive harvest method can shave anywhere from one to two weeks off of the timeline. Check the flowers with a loupe to know which ones are ready to harvest and which ones aren’t quite ripe yet. Typically the buds formed higher up on the plant will mature faster than the lower hanging buds, but this isn’t always the case, that’s why identification with a loupe is key.

Choosing a fast growing strain

Choosing a fast growing cannabis strain

Knowing how to grow herb faster is founded upon choosing the proper strain. When growing plants, there’s only so much you can do and the rest is up to the seed itself. Some breeders have spent their entire lives searching for the perfect genetic makeup that balances a strong plant that has a quick life cycle with high yields and amazing flower attributes. Choosing the right strain for your grow setup and one that is also something you enjoy smoking is important, however if you want to grow plants fast, that selection is even more crucial since it can cut down weeks if not a month or more of grow time. As noted earlier, indicas generally have shorter life cycles than sativas and are typically the best choice if you really want plants that are quick to harvest.

Top indoor fast-growing strains

  • + Speed Auto - This strain has the fastest growing cycle of any plant we’ve seen and is probably the quickest growing on the market. Bred specifically for a fast harvest, + Speed Auto is a cross between the popular Critical Mass and Speed Devil #2 autoflower strains. It’s a balanced hybrid with roughly 50/50 indica to sativa ratio and has an impressive indoor yield of 350 to 500 grams per square meter. Harvest happens at just seven weeks from the time of germination, which is unheard of. That means the entire process can take less than two months!
  • Quick One - Not to be outdone by + Speed Auto, Quick One lives up to its name with harvest happening around eight weeks after germination. The autoflowering strain gets its genetics from William's Wonder, Northern Lights, and ruderalis and is most similar to the Lowryder 1 strain. The makeup is about 10% sativa, 60% indica, and 30% ruderalis for well rounded effects. Crops of Quick One produce a yield of 275 to 325 grams per square meter when grown indoors.
  • Royal Cheese - Developed in Britain from top-of-the-line genetics, Royal Cheese is a fast flowering cross between Old School Skunk and Afghani with a makeup of 40% sativa and 60% indica. The Cannabis Cup award winner is ready for harvest after just six to eight weeks from germination and is highly productive with yields weighing up to 550 grams per square meter. But be warned, if you’re trying to be discreet about your hobby, Royal Cheese has a very strong aroma both while growing and when dried or smoked.

Top outdoor fast-growing strains

  • Northern Lights Auto - Cultivator or not, every 420 enthusiast has heard of the classic strain, Northern Lights. Perfect for outdoor grow setups, this autoflower strain has an eight to nine week grow time after germination and an absolutely astounding yield of up to 625 grams per plant (500 to 550 grams per square meter)! Said to have Afghan and Thai genetics, Northern Lights has been used over and over again to produce some of the most popular and award winning strains in existence and is a 100% pure indica strain best smoked at night time or when you have no responsibilities.
  • Speedy Chile - As the name suggests, this strain is fast growing with genetics that trace back to South America. It was bred with a complex makeup of Early Skunk, Skunk, and Landrace Indica strains from Chile. This quick flowering strain is ready to harvest in seven to eight weeks with a short flowering period of roughly six weeks (42 days). Great for beginner cultivators with outdoor grow setups, Speedy Chile will yield approximately 475 to 525 grams per square meter of large, potent buds.
  • Purplematic CBD - In need of a high CBD strain? Look no further than the fast growing Purplematic CBD. Created by crossing Kush Rose Auto CBD and Afghan Rose Auto CBD, this autoflower strain is easy to grow, making it the perfect choice for novice cultivators. It will have very little psychoactive effects with all the benefits of CBD and is an indica dominant hybrid with a makeup of 5% sativa, 90% indica, and 5% ruderalis. Ready to harvest in eight to nine weeks, this high CBD strain has dark purple colored buds that are loaded with terpenes and is truly a sight to see. Best grown outdoors in slightly warmer environments, the yield weighs in at roughly 375 to 450 grams per square meter.

Ready to start your home grow and harvest your first batch of tasty buds? Take a look at our online smoke shop, which also offers autoflower seeds, feminized seeds, grow tents, and other grow supplies as well as smoking essentials like glass bongs, pipes, rolling papers, storage containers, dry herb vaporizers, and more to fully enjoy the fruits (or should we say flowers) of your labor.

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